Digital transformation or digitization is right at the very top of business agenda today. All organization big and small, born in the new age or from yesterday’s years are all queuing up to set the record straight for their own good and for the well being of their customers. Well, there are also some who continue to not believe in the change that is currently sweeping our society and therefore see digitization as a wasteful exercise and an expenditure unnecessary.. we do not have to really spend a lot of time on those, because they are on their decline, anyway. That brings us the question .. what is digital transformation and why should anyone really bother? For sake of simplicity let us say & agree to define digital transformation as a way of converting existing records, conversations, pieces of evidence, contents and contracts, and every other information extending to but not limited to audio and video records into a format that can be read, stored, indexed and pulled out by a machine. The machine is a device with computing capability in this case. And then there is the logical marriage of data with internet .. so that everything is available everywhere at all times, to do with cloud-based interactions. One way to measure the strength of your digital transformation is to see how seamless is search built on your digital records. Having a piece of information is as good as not having it if you’re not able to quickly pull it out from the pile, read from it, if needed modify/update it and then send it back to the storage to be looked at later. Search makes your digitization smart.
Let’s talk a little bit about why and how has digital transformation become such a thing. Why this force gained so much of relevance and it is not about sophistication but sustenance, in today’s’ world. Let’s take a look at what & who are we really talking about when we say today’s world. We hear a lot about the demographic dividend and how age is by the side of India when rest of the world is aging fast into a scarcity staring them in the eye, we as a country have the largest and also the youngest workforce force. Inability to contain population has thrown this little, if I may say so, advantage, upon as. We’ve people, a lot of them when the world outside is quickly running out of human capital. Do we have the required skill set though, that is a discussion in itself ..an important one we must get back to it but some other day. Millennials are spoken about .. by everyone .. the future! Who are these people? Let’s get the definition out of the way quickly, anyone born after 1980 is a candidate for it and those born after 2000 are to be called generation ‘Z’; Z is the coolest lot on the block. To give you a view, nearly 45% of the current working population was born after 1980. A young workforce, who did not have to transition from typewriters to computers .. computers were the first devices on which they typed in 78% of the cases, whopping 63% of this mass had their first phone as a smartphone. We can easily conclude that this generation is tech-savvy and computes on machines every day. It is an interesting fact that about 17% of this category hasn’t used ‘fax’ even once in their lifetime.
We now know that 45% of the working population is of a certain nature and behavior.. it doesn’t take much to know that only those who are employed earn and only those who earn can possibly spend; so 45% of your customers, or let’s just say, near to that number are people who are exposed to computers and the combined state of computer and the internet. The proliferation of Internet-fuelled by cheap devices and economical data tariff has reached internet-powered devices in every corner of human civilization. These customers are always ‘online’ .. connected devices and the internet-of-things is a way of life for them. This generation, doesn’t ask people when in doubt, they just search it on the web, reason why they have a lot of information but not all of it is accurate, therefore, decision making is not wisdom based but mostly recognition based. You see more of SAMSUNG you buy it .. you see more of Maruti .. that is your car, etc.
‘Library’ is becoming .. thing of the past. The e-book is in. Most of the world around us today prefer digital books to read. One could argue that, Physical books and publication are still 71% of all the reading material that is sold; well yes, but it has shrunk from a 100% to 71% in less than 5 years and what is an interesting data point to see is that, 89% of new readers are e-readers, so what does it mean? It tells you that the new customers that are getting added are on digital platforms entirely because the legacy customers still are living .. the number on a cumulative basis is still on the physical side. An economic fact is that as you grow older your ability to spend goes down, which means that if you were to earn more you’ll have to look towards the other lot and therefore .. digitization is the way to go. Let’s not even bring the fact that old customer set isn’t immortals, life expectancy is not 200 yrs just about 65 and in that functional years is about 52 for over 70% of the population. So in next 5 years, 71% will shrink .. faster than physical masses when on strong fire.
If you do not digitalize yourself you’ll just perish into the oblivion. That is a fact.
Let’s talk a little about the history of the internet and how it became the power that it is today?
Experts categorize the rise of the internet in three categories.
Internet 1.0 – The time when the internet infra was being led out. The wiring and the plumbing of the Internet. This phase was great for companies like Cisco, Dell and HP and basically anyone that was selling physical infrastructure and networking.
Internet 2.0 – Distinct and disruptive businesses that were built on the foundations of the Internet: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Expedia, Uber, AirBnB – the Internet-enabled new business models. Current age, ones are Shuttl, BigBasket, Flipkart, ShopClues, Drooms etc.
Internet 3.0 – The current phase in which the Internet is ubiquitous. The Internet is now enabling every part of the business. Everything and everyone is suffixed with an ‘e’, there is e-seva there is e-governance and even e-business.
What does that mean? And how should organizations cope up with it? Physical infrastructures aren’t going anywhere, you’d still see offices, tables, chairs, and the electronic infra though shrinking in size but will still remain. An 11 inch iPad outperformance 92% of desktop and laptops on Geekbench performance benchmark. Things are different now. 7 Nono meter chip is a reality, a fully grown ant is bigger than that. This is where we are. Mobile devices are the way to go .. free yourself from computers and try and see how much of your work can you migrate to the smaller screen sizes, that is where the world is going today. I try and do everything that I can on a smaller screen, this is my attempt to learn to remain relevant when that day comes which doesn’t have physical computers like we have today. I don’t wanna be left behind.
True digital transformation must have a thing or two to do with the three top things that come to my mind.
Data and Analytics– Connected devices with microprocessors on all kinds of machine are churning data, more than ever before, from location to pattern of use to every other aspect of it existence. Organizations must make way for storing, computing, and then deriving actionable insights from this gold mine of information that is being generated with every move. Prescriptive is thing of the past predictive is where it has to go now. Use past and present to accurately predict the future. Success will be determined by it .. thru and thru.
Communication to Workflow– We’ve to move away from communication-based progress monitoring to workflow based advancement measurement systems. I’m not saying people shouldn’t talk .. they must, more than before to arrive at decisions but once finalized, the execution has to be email or trial free. Have a workflow, with defined timelines .. no need to follow up or ask for status on emails or messengers. The workflow shows the accurate status of tasks and when not done, one doesn’t have to ask who did not do, each step of the work has to be moved to an activity with an owner. Not only will it cause for efficiency but also accountability will be a lot easier to establish. Moving away from ‘he said’ .. ‘she said’ .. to what was done, when and how much time was taken. Data over words. Needless to say that you’ve to stop signing piles of paper to approve something. By means of workflow .. it must pass from one to the other stage of fulfillment. Even when you have to deliver output to the different organization or an agency, make sure you go as digital as possible and when it has to be physical, the last output from the machine should be it. You should not have to print and then work on it, work and then print and then ship .. that is the way to go.
The transition from Physical spaces to Digital places– Successful billion dollar + stories are evidence that you’ve to invest less in physical infrastructure, use internet-based aggregation for fulfillment if that is what your business demands. Going hyperlocal or expanding global look for digital spaces and move fast. There is the benefit of both scale and cost, in it. Aggregation allows for the re-use of resources enabling optimal utilization. There hasn’t been a better win-win situation. The managed marketplace is the way to go.
Lastly, let’s not forget that this transformation is not organization but customer led, because of the way, we users:: you and I, learn, buy, consume, have changed, the way organizations procure, manufacture, supply, sell and service has to change too, if they were to remain in business.
Thanks for your time .. see you in the next one, have a good Sunday!